TV shows mad love for local comic book super heroine
'Insane Jane' picked up for pilot starring Miracle Laurie
Move over, Ant-Man.
Beaverton-based comic book publisher Darren G. Davis is on the verge of a lucrative new venture about an avenging super heroine named Jane whose grip on reality is less than firm.
Davis is president of BlueWater/StormFront Productions, a company he founded in 2006. He just signed a deal to option his graphic novel property Insane Jane for a TV series starring Dollhouse actress Miracle Laurie. The announcement came earlier this month at San Diegos Comic Con, where industry types, actors, and fans gather to pump upcoming blockbuster films such as Batman v. Superman, Star Wars VII: The Force Awakens and smaller independent projects like this one.
If all goes as planned, Insane Jane is expected to start shooting for TV later this year. Its a story about a well-meaning and earnest but schizophrenic young woman who goes off her meds and boldly inserts herself into crime scenes real and imagined because she thinks shes a superhero.
Its a story I created about eight years ago, says Davis. And weve been doing different miniseries based on this character ever since.
While sales for traditional print comic book formats are down, eBook sales are up. About 80 percent of what we do now is online, says Davis. Hes also made inroads selling his titles to bookstores and school libraries.
In the '90s Marvel or DC Comics would sell 8 million print copies a year. Now its down to 100,000 a year, Davis says.
Bluewater/StormFront reported more than $2 million in revenue in 2011, and averaged the same in subsequent years.
Seventy-five percent of the companys sales come from Biography Comics, a series about current political figures. The first in the series depicted 2008 presidential hopefuls Hillary Clinton and Sarah Palin under the title Female Force. There are currently 60 books in the Biography Comics series with more to come. A new bio comic featuring Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky is up next, followed by Vermonts Sen. Bernie Sanders.
Members of the media enjoy these depictions, and Davis has appeared on CNN, Fox, The View and MSNBC to discuss the books. The New York Times culture writers picked up the recent bio comic Hillary Clinton the Road to the White House, which features Clinton in a blinding green power-pantsuit.
The Washington D.C. based newspaper Roll Call has exclusive right to the art for an upcoming Jeb Bush comic, Davis says.
Certainly Jane is not your typical heroine in the vein of Wonder Woman or She-Ra Princess of Power. In a press release, actress Miracle Laurie said, Jane is an actors dream, filled with complexity and laced with tremendous amounts of fun. The moment I read the graphic novel, I felt connected to her.
Laurie is a producer on the project and has been pushing really hard for this, says Davis, because she loves the character and the depth and the cross-over appeal.
Janes story is a disorienting one, told by an unreliable narrator, Davis says.
The reader doesnt know if its sci-fi or not. Its about a woman who is obsessed with superheroes. So she tries to fight crimes and just as in superhero folklore she will put herself through certain trials in order to become a hero. Shes likeable but she also does horrible things.
Davis, 47, spent the early part of his career in California with a six-year stint at E! Entertainment, where he honed a taste for pop culture and marketing. His first break came with a comic book he wrote called Tenth Muse, based on mythology, but his financial break came when Walmart picked up his Justin Bieber bio comic.
Could the far less mainstream Jane do the same?
This is the closest the company has come to seeing a graphic novel cross over to live-action, Davis says.
You get excited because we have an actress, we have a producer and we have a screenwriter.
But no money has exchanged hands yet, and like his character Jane, things can always fall apart.
Back in 2003 we were having a lot of success with 'Legend of Isis,' (based on the '70s TV show about a schoolteacher-turned-super-heroine-goddess living in L.A.). And Lindsay Lohan was on board before she went crazy. Of course now no one will get near something named Isis.
Davis doesnt draw anymore, and says its not a professional requirement.
I go to schools all the time and teach Comics 101. I tell the kids they dont have to have the greatest drawing skills. There are many other roles inkers, creators, etc. You dont have to be a visual artist to work in this industry.